October 12: John Taylor Arms (1912)

John Taylor Arms was a prominent Washington, D.C. businessman and a devoted parishioner of the Church of the Epiphany. Born in Lansingburgh, New York, Arms was the second child of Roger Newton Arms and Lucretia Jane Taylor. In early youth, he entered the importing department of New York City’s A.T. Stewart & Co. dry goods store, the birthplace of the modern day department store. About 1870, Arms came to Washington, D.C. and secured an appointment in the Treasury Department. Here he remained for two years, when he resigned to engage in the real estate business. He served as president of the Arms & Drury firm, which was a real estate, insurance, and note broker. The offices were initially located in the Le Droit Building at 8th and F Streets, NW (the location of the Spy Museum today) and later moved to Epiphany’s Endowment Building, which was located next door to the church (where the 700 13th St office building stands today). Arms was a member of the Washington Stock Exchange and a director of the National Metropolitan Bank.

In 1879, John Taylor Arms married Kate Corcoran Watkins, the daughter of Epiphany’s former rector, Wilbur Watkins. After the birth of the couple’s first child, Mary, the Rev. Mr. Watkins returned to Epiphany to perform the baptism. Mary Watkins Arms was later married at the church by Bishop Harding. The funerals of John Taylor Arms’ mother (1883) and wife (1904) took place at Epiphany. Following these events, Arms placed a stained glass window in the church in their memory. The window is in the middle position on the west side of the nave and is the work of the Tiffany Studios. The name of John Taylor Arms (JTA) has continued through several generations. JTA Jr. was a noted etcher and one of most famous printmakers of the early 20th Century. JTA IV was an Episcopal priest and passed away in 2006. The home on New Hampshire Avenue built by John Taylor Arms in 1908 is today the Embassy of the Democratic Republic of Congo. Following Arms’ death in 1912, his funeral took place at Epiphany, where he had served as a vestry member and parish treasurer.

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